#30. Hop Along: Painted Shut

Frances Quinlan has the kind of voice that demands attention. At her loudest, she cuts through the air like a machete; at her softest, her whispers retain a commanding presence that would make Count Basie proud. Her voice can drive a point home even without the aid of her thought provoking lyrics—she could sing the yellow pages and still give chills.

It’s the kind of voice that can only be held down by stepwise melodies for so long. Quinlan has an almost defiant disregard for octaves, leaping comfortably across large intervals as she soars above the rest of the band. When she screams, her rugged rasp gets so much traction that it’s almost multiphonic.

But Painted Shut is much more than a sandbox for Quinlan to explore her vocal capacity. The rest of the quartet makes sure that the band’s musical output is greater than the sum of its parts. They set up stage at the unlikely crossroads of folk and punk, and rock just as hard as the 90s sound from which they draw their influence.

If Hop Along’s intensity is what captivates listeners in the heat of the moment, their lyrics are what stay with us afterwards. In “Powerful Man,” Quinlan relives an incident from her adolescent years when she witnessed a man abusing his son. The songs “Buddy In The Parade” and “Horseshoe Crabs” are about the fallen musical stars Buddy Bolden and Jackson C. Frank. Quinlan seems afraid of the way these men drifted from popular scrutiny into obscurity, lamenting how Bolden “didn’t leave behind a goddamn thing,” since there are no records of his playing. Luckily for Hop Along, Painted Shut sets their catalogue on its way to be one hell of a legacy.